Torticollis: What Is It And Can We Help?

The definition of Torticollis is ‘twisted neck’. It commonly referred to as ‘wry neck’. It’s one of the common causes of stiffness and neck pain. Most people have awakened in the morning to feel that old ‘wry neck’. Usually it will disappear within just a few days or more.Lots of people take painkillers to help deal with the pain. It is usually recommended that they also perform gentle neck exercises to help ‘ work it out’. There some additional causes for torticollis which we’ll discuss in the rest of this article.


Acute Torticollis

When anything is acute it usually came on fast or hard or both. A neck being twisted can happen whenever the muscles that support the neck on any one side are experiencing pain.You cannot always tell what may have caused acute Torticollis. Someone with no previous neck problems whatsoever can wake up with a stiff neck. It doesn’t mean you’ve actually been injured, just that your muscles are stiffened from staying in a wrong position for too long.

It can be from a minor sprain or a simple muscle irritation. Ligaments in the neck can cause it. Having poor posture when surfing the net is another way you may end up with a stiff neck. Sleeping in a wrong position or carrying heavy loads that are unbalanced can strain one side of the neck and cause a stiff neck. There are many ways to bring on this condition.


The most common symptom is a pain or some stiffness or both going down one side of the neck. It makes it painful to turn your head this way or that. Sometimes the pain can even move around and you can feel it on the shoulders or back of the head. When you touch the stiff area those muscles can be tender. Head movement is restricted and many people apply deep heating creams to loosen up the stiff muscles.

How Serious is It?

Not so much. It helps to look into physiotherapy to confirm it’s only Torticollis and not a more serious problem. X-rays are rarely used unless a physiotherapist sees something more than just a stiff neck.The prognosis for anyone with a wry neck is good. Usually the pain and stiffness will subside between 24 and 48 hours. Even though it gets easier to move your head the pain can sometimes still be felt (to lesser degrees, like a pinch) for weeks.

A Good Path to Take

Even though the pain is quite stifling someone with stiff neck should try to keep moving their head as if the pain wasn’t there. Gentle exercise can also help, moving your head slowly back and forth and up and down a few times a day. After a while these exercises should increase.Attempt to move your head farther with the exercise movement over time, increasing the range of motion. Moving your neck will not cause damage to it but it will be uncomfortable.

What Kind of Medications Help?

  1. Anti-Inflammatory Painkillers – these seem to work better for a lot of people than Paracetamol. They can also be used by themselves or in conjunction with the Paracetamol. They contains ibuprofen which can be bought at a local pharmacy.
  1. Paracetemol – when taken in full strength two 500 mg tablets (4 times daily) are sufficient.
  1. Sometimes muscle relaxers like diazepam or extra-strength painkillers like codeine are good options.

Some Less Common Causes

(a). Sometimes there are other reasons for Torticollis. Throat infections in the upper airways is one. They cause swollen lymph glands and inflammation from these or from infections can be the cause for spasms in neck muscles.

(b). Neck injuries or abnormalities can also spark the development of a stiff neck.

(c). It could be a side-effect from specific medicines (like phenothiazines).

The treatment of Torticollis always depends on the cause. Physiotherapy Cambridge is an excellent source for diagnosis and treatment.

For more information on how we can help you visit our website